Dunwoody: Geraghty the man

  • By: Richard Dunwoody
  • Last Updated: February 25 2013, 18:32 GMT

Richard Dunwoody returns to preview the Top Jockey betting ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.

Barry Geraghty: The man with the strongest rides
Barry Geraghty: The man with the strongest rides

With a slight lull in the top notch action then I thought it would be a perfect time to take a look at the Top Jockey market ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.

With two weeks to go the big jockeys will be hoping that lady luck is on their side in terms of injuries and falls when riding at the lesser meetings this week and next, so let's just hope they all get there in one piece.

During my riding days I managed to bag the top jockey title at the festival twice (1990 & 1996), and surprisingly I only managed to do that with two winners each time.

Yes, back then the meeting was only over three days, but when looking at the amount of winners it takes to walk away with the top jockey prize these days it's amazing.

The last two seasons have seen Barry Geraghty (2012) and Ruby Walsh (2011) need five winners, while Ruby notched an incredible seven successes back in 2009 - something that will surely not be matched or bettered for a while.

With the continued dominance of the powerful Henderson, Nicholls and Mullins stables then this is one of the main reasons it's hard to see anything but a win for either Barry Geragthy or Ruby Walsh again in 2013, and the bookmakers agree making them both around 6/4.

Barry has ridden the most winners over the meeting twice and Ruby six times, and with plenty of so-called bankers to pick from then both will have their supporters.

Next best in the betting AP at around 7/1 and although the champ has two 'top jockey' titles to his name it's hard to see him challenging the main two. True, he's got a lot to look forward to, most notably My Tent Or Yours in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, and he's bound to pick up at least one more winner somewhere for his boss JP, but when you compare his likely mounts to Barry and Ruby's you actually feel he should be bigger than the 7/1 on offer.

Looking at Ruby first the big blow to his chance is there will be no Big Buck's landing the World Hurdle this year. That said, he's still got Quevega, who looks like getting another penalty kick in the Mares' Hurdle, while if you think Hurricane Fly is a good thing in the Champion Hurdle then that's two winners.

Silviniaco Conti could provide him with another in the Gold Cup, but that looks a wide open race, while he's sure to have a nice ride in the bumper for either Nicholls or Mullins.

Yes, it's almost a cert that Ruby will fire something home in one of the handicaps, or maybe in the Triumph, but there are too many ifs and buts for me and I'd much rather be siding with Barry Geraghty.

With Sprinter Sacre and Simonsig Barry's two big bankers then these probably just shade Ruby's two - Quevega and Hurricane Fly - while add in Bobs Worth in the Gold Cup, Grandouet (Champion Hurdle), Oscar Whisky (World Hurdle) and Riverside Theatre (Ryanair) then, for me, Barry looks to have a slightly better second-tier set of rides too, and that's without any of the handicaps.

Away from the main three it really is 'name your price', but there may be some drawn into having a tiny saver on Jason Maguire at around 25/1. He'll need plenty of help outside his main yard (Donald McCain), but with Peddlers Cross and Overturn he has something to cling to.

Past Cheltenham Festival Top Jockeys:

2012 - Barry Geraghty (5)
2011 - Ruby Walsh (5)2010 - Ruby Walsh (3)
2009 - Ruby Walsh (7)
2008 - Ruby Walsh (3)
2007 - Robert Thornton (4)
2006 - Ruby Walsh (3)
2005 - Graham Lee (3)
2004 - Ruby Walsh (3)
2003 - Barry Geraghty (5)
2002 - Richard Johnson (2)
2000 - Mick Fitzgerald (4)
1999 - Mick Fitzgerald (4)
1998 - Tony McCoy (5)
1997 - Tony McCoy (3)
1996 - Richard Dunwoody (2)
1995 - Norman Williamson (4)
1994 - Charlie Swan (3)
1993 - Charlie Swan (4)
1992 - Jamie Osborne (5)

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